A U.S. soldier has been shot dead by gunmen wearing military uniforms in eastern Afghanistan, media reports citing unnamed American officials said late on Tuesday.
The officials said two other U.S. service-members were also injured in the attack, but did not disclose where exactly the incident occurred. They added that the two suspected shooters had been detained.
According to the U.S. officials who reportedly spoke on condition of anonymity, an investigation has been launched to find out whether the shooters were Taliban infiltrators. There were reports that Taliban had claimed responsibility for the shooting incident.
Earlier in the day, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan said in a statement posted on its website that one of its service-members was killed after two individuals wearing Afghan National Army uniforms turned their weapons on coalition troops in the east of the country.
Nevertheless, the ISAF statement did not disclose the identity or nationality of the deceased soldier in accordance with the coalition's policy of not disclosing details until the home country of the deceased does so. Notably, most ISAF troops stationed in eastern Afghanistan are Americans.
Tuesday's attack was the latest in a series of such incidents of civilians or militants, disguised as Afghan security personnel, as well as Afghan soldiers themselves targeting ISAF personnel. It is estimated that at least 27 ISAF personnel have been killed in some 20 such incidents, labeled by the media as "green-on-blue" attack.
Two other ISAF soldiers were killed in separate incidents of violence in Afghanistan on Tuesday. While one was killed in a roadside bomb attack using an improvised explosive device (IED) in southern Afghanistan, the other died in an insurgent attack in the country's east.
Notably, roadside bombings using IEDs are fast becoming the hallmark of Taliban strategy against NATO forces, as it avoids direct confrontation with the foreign troops while increasing casualties. It is now estimated that more than 276 ISAF soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of this year, mostly in roadside bomb attacks using IEDs.
Currently, there are over 130,000 foreign troops from more than 42 countries under the joint command of the NATO and the United States in Afghanistan to contain a resurgent Taliban in the war-torn country.
Nevertheless, anti-Western sentiments have been high in Afghanistan in recent years, mainly due to civilian deaths in military operations carried out by the foreign troops. Such incidents have increased drastically after the burning of copies of the Holy Koran at a U.S. airbase in February as well as the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier in March.
The U.S. and other allied nations involved in the Afghan mission are currently making serious efforts to get the Afghan security forces ready and capable of handling the country's security before the planned withdrawal of coalition troops by the end of 2014. However, there are wide concerns about the ability of Afghan security forces to counter Taliban insurgency without the same level of foreign military assistance and presence.
by RTT Staff Writer
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